Mirror website

July 2, 2007

This website is the mirror website of Naxalrevolution.blogspot.com

The government of India has previously tried to block
blogs in India and hence this blog has been setup to
serve as a backup and mirror site which could be
accessed in case the government re imposes the ban.

This blog is update at regular intervals.

But for the latest updates please visit

Naxalrevolution.blogspot.com

CPM declares open war on pro-naxalite bloggers

July 1, 2007


The CPI(Marxist) has declared an open war on pro-maoist bloggers and other websites which had exposed the criminal activities of CPM in West Bengal in particular.

Biman seeks NRI help as SEZ war hits cyberspace
Bidyut Roy

Kolkata, June 26: CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose is taking the “facts” on Nandigram and Singur to the US. Bose is leaving for the country on June 27 to raise funds for his non-governmental organisation, Vidyasagar Foundation, which works on literacy programmes in rural areas.

However, he is extending his fund-raising trip by eight days during which he will talk to influential Bengali NRIs on what happened at Nandigram to counter the Internet campaign launched by Naxalite groups and the Trinamool Congress. The cyber campaign centres around the police firing of March 14 at Nandigram in which 14 villagers were killed when a protest against a now-abandoned land acquisition programme turned violent.

For the Vidyasagar Foundation trip, Bose is going to Detroit, the headquarters of the Uttar America Banga Sanskriti Sammelan or North American Bengali Cultural Conference. He will be accompanied by Anup Sarkar and three other office-bearers of the Vidyasagar Foundation.

Sarkar told Newsline: “We have already fixed up five meetings in the US with influential Bengali groups there.” The North American Bengali Conference will be held in Detroit from June 29 to July 1. “After this, Biman da will meet Bengali professionals who are US citizens to discuss Nandigram,” Sarkar said.

Earlier, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had decided to use non-resident Indian supporters of her party and of the Naxals to propagate the anti-CPI(M) campaign over Nandigram. Mamata and her Naxal allies have already chosen three influential NRIs for this task. Trinamool sources said these people have begun their campaign among the Bengali community.

Indianexpress

Maoist leader killed in AP

July 1, 2007

Hyderabad, July 1: A top Maoist leader, carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, was killed in an exchange of fire with police in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh today.

The Naxal leader was killed when a special police party combing the forest area near Medaram village Tadwai mandal exchanged fire with Maoists, police said.

The deceased was identified as Ch Paparao alias Somanna (48), a secretariat member of North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC) for over last 15 years.

Somanna, who also worked as secretary of Warangal and Karimnagar districts, was involved in 31 offences including 14 murder cases, police said.

The police recovered one AK-47 rifle, carbine, pistol and four kitbags from the spot. (Agencies)

Chennaionline

Nine killed in Maoist attack in Bihar

July 1, 2007

SASARAM/BIHAR: Nine persons, including five policemen, were killed and as many were wounded as CPI-Maoist rebels carried out simultaneous attacks on a police station and an outpost in Bihar’s Rohtas district and fled with arms and ammunition.

Superintendent of Police N H Khan said around 200 Maoists simultaneously attacked the Rajpur police station and Baghaila outpost at midnight Saturday night and blew up the structures with dynamite.

The rebels fired randomly at the policemen, killing five constables, a chowkidar and three civilians, Khan said.

They looted four self-loading rifles, eight .303 rifles, two INSAS rifles, three carbines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition during the hour-long audacious attack.

Nine others, including four policemen, were injured in the incident. While some are being treated here, the critically injured were sent to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Naxalites left several handbills at the scene that claimed the attacks were launched to protest against the alleged naming of their comrades, including Barun, in “false cases”.

The deceased have been identified as Phulchand Munda, Shivdayal Ram, Ghoran Mandal, Mahavir Ram, Vimal Toppo (all policemen), Rajbali Singh (chowkidar), Bittu, Hardayal Ram and Dwarika Mishra (villagers).

Khan said police had engaged the attackers in a fierce battle at a place close to the scene and raids were now continuing at different places in Aurangabad and Rohtas districts to apprehend them.

The attack came close on the heels of the two-day economic blockade by the proscribed outfit from June 26 against the economic policies of the Centre including creation of Special Economic Zones and alleged torture of their comrades in police custody.

Meanwhile, police recovered six handgrenades and two rifles from a place near Obera police station in neighbouring Aurangabad district after a fierce encounter with the rebels who, however, managed to flee later.

Police fired more than 1,000 rounds in reply to hundreds of rounds fired by the Naxalites during the encounter which lasted for over three hours, official sources said.

DNA

Alarm bells ringing everywhere !

July 1, 2007

ALARMING NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND


The districts of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, known as the Naxal-affected belts, are areas where the scheduled tribes and castes make up more than 60 per cent of the population. Poverty is endemic in this region. The government is carrying out two types of development. The first is based on industries, mining and commercialization, and the second is linked with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the mid-day meal scheme and primary education. As far as the Naxal problem is concerned, the policy is to use ‘maximum force’. Which of these development models and policies is working is a critical question for the future of these states and their people.

The first developmental policy regarding the increase of private investment and ownership in mining, forestry, and so on is not new. This type of development was the initial reason behind the alienation of tribals since they saw their communal methods of ownership and freedom being curtailed. As large areas are cordoned off to make mines, large dams and special economic zones, tribals are displaced and turned into migrant labour. Tribal customs, like the making of local brew from Mahua trees, have been banned and foreign liquor shops have come up. The Naxalites have thrived in such an iniquitous environment.

The second developmental model, connected with social and economic schemes, is becoming increasingly popular, although it is using only 25-30 per cent of its capacity. Recent surveys by the Right to Food Group have revealed many problems with these schemes which need correction to make them effective and beneficial to more people. Yet, these schemes work in the ‘Naxal-affected’ areas and because of their popularity even the Naxals support these programmes, testifying to their importance. The government argues that Naxals “impede development”. But when development is positive and supported at the ground level, anyone wanting political legitimacy is forced to support it.

The Naxals work on small-time development issues like running some schools, health centres, dams, foodgrain banks, and so on. This gives them local level support, without which they would not be able to survive. The Maoists levy taxes and extort money from contractors and the locals for such work and for procuring the wide range of weapons that they possess. The level of support to Naxals in Jharkhand, where they are fast spreading, however varies.

In areas where the local population sees that significant efforts are being made by the government for improvement, the Naxals are not popular. Who would want to go to a Naxal school if the government school functioned? But in most places people are fed up with the police. Villagers say that if the Naxals come at night and want to be fed, the police invariably turn up next morning and want to be bribed. The choice then is between the “Maowadi and Khaowadi”.

Anyone interested in these areas, from the local member of parliament or that of the state legislature, to contractors and businessmen, has to have some alliance with the Maoists. How else would elections be held? And how else would contracts be completed? The Naxals argue, “In our zones, anyone can pass through if their identity is clear.” Maoists, in fact, no longer believe in ‘liberated zones’ but in ‘zones of influence’, where they co-exist with others and where they have parallel judicial and executive structures — the jan adalat (peoples’ court) and their militia that executes. The smallest unit is the two-man village unit; then there is the area secretary and the area commander. Area decisions are taken together by the area commander and secretary. The sub-zonal committee is overseen by the zonal committee and the zonal commander. They are assisted by a local guerilla squad and a special guerilla squad. Leaders and guerilla squads do not comprise all locals. They can be from any other region. The entire party is underground.

It is known that women have functioned as supporters, couriers and leaders, but very few come up for the ‘risky work’. The women’s organization, the Nari Mukti Sangh, functions at all levels, including in the armed squad, where women get full military training. Most women join this movement because of poverty and some because of ideology. The major work of politicization is undertaken by them.

The police have little knowledge of the functioning, except when Naxals are caught and then named ‘commander’, whatever their real status. Thus the local people often suffer police brutalities as there is little to distinguish between them and the Maoists. This is especially so in Jharkhand, where the Naxals are more local.

In the meantime, the police have killed hundreds of alleged Naxalites in ‘encounters’. They do not allow first information reports to be registered and give no compensation to families. The fear of the contesting militia has divided villages and caused fear and internal displacement, forcing villagers to evacuate their houses and camps, leading to unending personal tragedies.

Like the special security forces created earlier to deal with insurgency in the North-east and in Kashmir, the Salwa Judam was created in Chattisgarh. This government-sponsored force of well-armed local volunteers comprises former insurgents and the local youth. This state-armed unofficial militia has caused much harm and turned more people towards insurgency. It has helped militarize the society, where children now dream of guns, and the use of force is the accepted method of negotiation. This militia is unable to distinguish between ordinary civilians and insurgents. They see the entire community as ‘enemy’, similar to the ‘bounty killers’ who are used in all local disputes.

Many human rights groups have recorded the excesses of this militia. Such reports, however, have been ignored. Instead, journalists and activists have been branded as ‘sympathizers’. Meanwhile, the Salwa Judam model is being copied in other areas like Jharkhand, where the Nagrik Rakshak Samiti or Narsu has been working along the same lines and all local sources testify to its unpopularity and criminality.

Maximum force has been officially justified because of the killing and looting by the Naxals. Local officials say that once Naxals are caught, torture is essential to extract information. Figures, however, show that the number of Naxal-related incidents has not decreased, rather the number of human rights violations by both sides have significantly increased. Further, if the incidents and violations decrease in one area they simultaneously increase in another. For example, incidents of Naxalite strikes have gone down in Andhra Pradesh, but if nine out of 16 districts were affected in Chattisgarh, 18 out of 22 districts are affected in Jharkhand today.

In these circumstances, the schemes like the NREGA are all the more important. Yet they are still to be fully implemented. The Right to Food group witnessed that while there was increasing awareness of the act, the staff to implement it was still inadequate. There were delays in wage payments, there was lack of institutional arrangements (for example, Jharkhand has no panchayat elections), a monitoring system and accountability.

The outcome is thus already quite clear. People support ideas that benefit them and involve them. The idea of development based on human rights has become rooted in the minds of the people. To deny this is to lead to more conflict on all sides.

The Telegraph

India: Rural Development and the Naxalite Threat

July 1, 2007

June 28, 2007 20 31 GMT

Summary

Indian Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, stepped up operations June 26-27 in their strongholds in eastern India, bringing much of the region to a standstill. As we expected, the Naxalites have seized upon the grievances of peasant farmers and tribal groups directly affected by the Indian government’s push to develop special economic zones. Though Indian politicians and security officials are quick to play up their successes against the Naxalites and brag about increasing Maoist defections, India’s security apparatus cannot contain the Naxalite movement, which is directly benefiting from a widespread rise in social agitation across rural India.

Analysis

For the second straight day Indian Maoist rebels, commonly referred to as Naxalites, wreaked havoc in the eastern Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa on June 27. Among other actions, they imposed a two-day economic blockade, attempted an attack on a power plant and brought traffic to a standstill by blowing up railway stations and rail lines.

While Indian officials tend to play up successes against the Naxalites, they cannot contain the Naxalites, who have drawn strength from rural unrest — something which carries major implications for investors outside India’s cities.

The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), the command center of India’s Naxalite movement, called the militant campaign in protest of New Delhi’s numerous development projects that have involved government land seizures. Eager to replicate China’s economic growth model, Indian politicians have caught Special Economic Zone (SEZ) fever, and with little foresight, are signing off on development projects left and right. One of the biggest problems with this haphazard economic policy is that SEZ development and expansion often displace peasant farmers and tribesmen, who are extremely adept at mounting stiff physical resistance to these projects — and do not fear engaging in violent clashes with the government to hold onto their land.

This growing dissatisfaction among India’s rural community over the SEZ push perfectly conforms to the Naxalite agenda. The Naxalites have been waging a 40-year-old popular insurrection against the government to combat exploitation and promote the creation of a classless society. Though the Naxalite movement has lost some of its intellectual appeal over the years, its campaign continues to attract men and women to its ranks.

The Naxalites have a force of approximately 15,000 cadres spread across 160 districts in the states of Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal. They operate primarily in the lawless, dense forested areas of India’s interior, with some estimates saying Naxalites control approximately 10.03 million hectares (about 25 million acres) of forests nationwide. They also have an active campaign to recruit students and other youths to help spread their left-wing extremism into India’s towns and cities. Thus far, however, the Naxalites have not demonstrated the ability to operate in urban areas.

Previously, the Naxalites have made direct threats against multinational corporations, though they primarily focus their attacks on police stations, locally owned factories and Indian government officials. The CPI-M leadership announced recently that for the first time, the Naxalite movement has created a single command center for the revolution and that more attacks are to come.

The Naxalites still have a host of problems to deal with, however. India has at least 10 Naxalite splinter groups that have broken away from the main movement due to differences over ideology and militant strategy, along with general disillusionment with the movement and war fatigue. Indian media also reports Naxalite defections on a nearly daily basis, though these incidents often are exaggerated and in some cases stage-managed by the police. This was most recently illustrated in January, when reports came out that as many as 79 Naxalites in Chhattisgarh had defected. Soon enough, allegations emerged that innocent tribal people were forced to “surrender” as Maoist rebels.

State governments have tried to lure Naxalite cadres away from the movement by offering amnesties and attractive rehabilitation programs, but this has not substantially increased defections. Rather, the Naxalites largely have been successful at retaining their experienced cadres by providing various types of incentives, including monthly stipends and regular medical checkups. Naxalites also attempt to recruit more female cadres by facilitating marriages within Naxalite camps. Many Naxalite cadres often surrender on orders of the party to collect intelligence and work as double agents, a common trend in Chattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The Naxalites also are extremely adept at using local agents and sympathizers to monitor the activities of true Naxalite defectors, who are often killed soon after they desert.

For the most part, Indian security forces garner little if any intelligence on Maoist activities from Naxalite defectors that would help counterinsurgency operations. The police hardly visit tribal pockets, avoiding them out of fear and lack of incentive. As a result, they have weak links with the locals and ex-Naxalites. And even when police do visit villages, Naxalite deserters avoid meeting them, since they know full well that the police cannot protect them and their families. Most prefer to keep silent and often agree to work as informers for the Naxalites even after they leave the party.

In Chhattisgarh, where Naxalite attacks are the most abundant, the state government has mobilized and armed villagers with bows and arrows, guns and spears to fight against Naxalites. This anti-Naxalite militia, known as Salva Judum, which means Purification Hunt, includes child soldiers in its ranks and is often touted by the state government as a highly successful counterinsurgency strategy. These claims are also overstated, however, and Naxalites have managed to insert spies in Salva Judum camps.

India’s Naxalite problem is rooted in socioeconomic disparities, something that will only be compounded as state governments push ahead with SEZs and development projects that threaten to displace semiliterate tribesmen and farmers. Though India has several paramilitary organizations whose sole focus is combating Naxalites, security personnel are in poor condition to tackle the menace. Many junior and midlevel police officers are severely demoralized and frustrated by overly confident senior officials and policymakers who cannot cut through India’s bureaucracy and coordinate across state lines against the Naxalites. This lack of coordination also largely results from law-and-order issues falling under exclusive control of the state governments. The central government in New Delhi cannot directly deal with the Naxalite threat in the states, and ideological differences among ruling parties at the federal and state levels result in incoherent policies across the country.

The Naxalite problem, which Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India, shows no sign of easing. Inevitably, foreign investors looking to expand their operations outside India’s urban areas must take it into consideration.

Stratfor – Foreign Intelligence think tank

Prachanda leaves for Switzerland

July 1, 2007

In his first visit to Europe, Maoist chairman Prachanda left for Switzerland on Saturday evening.

He said that he will discuss issues such as peace process, Constituent Assembly (CA) and federalism during his stay there.

Prachanda said that the visit will be helpful in developing international relations of the Maoists.

Talking to reporters at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA), Prachanda revealed that his party had good relations with Swiss government officials even during the peak of their conflict.

Another senior Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had already left for Norway a few days ago to take part in an international conference on conflict resolution. He is expected to travel to Switzerland also. nepalnews.com sd Jun 30 07

Nepalnews

India sends anti-china scholar to Nepal

July 1, 2007

Nepal’s Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today had to spare his half-an-hour time with the visiting self proclaimed Nepal expert Dr. S.D.Muni from India. Mr. Muni is a professor at the JNU (Jawahar Lal Nehru University), New Delhi.

Koirala is learnt to have briefed Mr. Muni on Nepal’s latest political developments as if the latter were the authoritative emissary of India’s living deity-Goddess Sonia Gandhi.

To recall, just a day before Nepal’s PM received the Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee at his residence.

Mr. Muni is considered to be the mentor of Nepalese leaders, more so those of the Maoists.

He is a close Chum of Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai- the Maoists deputy in command.

Mr. Muni is considered to have patched up the Maoists’ inner wrangling when Prachanda- the Maoists supreme commander had alleged Dr. Bhattarai as being a pro-India man in the Maoist camp and had even expelled Dr. Bhattarai from the party for quite some time.

Dr. Bhattarai instead alleged Prachanda as being a pro-palace man.

With Muni’s active maneuvering, Prachanda not only reinstated Bhattarai to his initial position but later hailed India for their support on peaceful settlement in Nepal.

The Maoists wrangling took place just few months before the SPA and the Maoists made a Delhi sponsored Agreement (November 22, 2005) to wage a struggle against the fifteen months old King’s regime.

Mr. Muni is supposed to be an undeclared advisor of the South Block establishment and is concurrently presumed to be close to the RAW (Indian Intelligence)- who has been told to keep “eyes” especially on Nepal.

High placed sources have told the telegraphnepal.com that Muni has been especially sent by the South Block mandarins here to monitor the Chinese influence.

Dr. Muni has come close on the heels of Chinese Ambassador’s declaration that his country would very much wish to have formal ties with the Maoists as China has with Nepal’s other major political forces. This Chinese bombshell appears to have jolted South-Block to the extent that it had to send a sharp critic of China. India perhaps thinks that the Maoists might go out of its grip only to be taken care of by China.

For the record, Prachanda’s son Prakash Dahal is currently said to be in China. Father Dahal is talked to shortly visit China.

June 29, 2007

Telegraph nepal

Red-buster road on PMO table

July 1, 2007

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi, June 29: A decision on 1,700km answer to the Naxalite arson across three states — the Vijayawada-Ranchi corridor — lies with the Prime Minister’s Office now.

National highway status, however, eludes the dream project of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who has been harping on this road project at every meeting of Maoist-affected states and at Prime Minister-Planning Commission discussions.

The proposed highway will pass through 12 districts of Orissa, including the Maoist-ridden Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj.

The Orissa stretch of the inter-state road will start from Motu in Malkangiri district in the south and terminate at Tiring in Mayurbhanj district in the north.

The chief minister felt that if the corridor passing through the Maoist affected states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh is constructed, it would usher in economic development in the region and thereby reduce the intensity of Left-wing extremism.

The route is something like this: Vijayawada-Kodar-Khammam-Motu-Malkangiri-Jeypore-Koraput-Rayagada-
Digapahandi-Aska-Phulbani-Boudhi-Deogarh-Keonjhar-Tiring-Hata-Chaibasa-
Chakradharpur-Khunti-Ranchi (see map).

Since the Naxalites are rapidly infiltrating Orissa, apart from Karnataka, security experts feel the Centre should decide on the project at the earliest and implement it fast.

“After five years, the rebels may not let you work,” said an expert from Chhattisgarh working on the project.

He added that some of the stretches like from Koraput to Rayagada are heavily affected by the Naxalites and need security.

In Jharkhand, engineers working on the project disclosed that contractors have been paying the Naxalites regularly in order to progress with work.

The telegraph

State of War

July 1, 2007

The brown papers that hardcore capitalists read every day seem to be
giving more coverage to the maoists of late.
This one is from the business standard.The entire supplement
on staurday carried this article on the frontpages.

State of War

Aditi Phadnis / New Delhi June 30, 2007
The last years have seen a dramatic rise in Naxal violence, and this week’s incidents prove that little is being done to contain it.

It was a warm April afternoon. Humidity rose like a blanket from the jungles around Murkinar, a small hamlet in Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh. Murkinar has two claims to fame: it has a police post on the side of the road and it is linked by a bus that plies between this hamlet and Bijapur, a nearby town.

As usual, villagers were waiting at the bus stop when the bus trundled to a stop. Suddenly, the bus stop was seething with people, mostly men holding bags. Passengers — Gond tribals with their weekly haul from the forest — were told to disembark and the men boarded the empty bus and ordered the driver to drive on.

At 3:00 in the afternoon, the police post was inhabited by constables trying to catch forty winks, dressed only in lungis and vests. No one paid any attention to the bus – until the men inside began firing at the police station with light machine guns. The Naxalites killed 11 policemen like they would shoot clay pigeons, kicked the bodies aside and loaded all the weapons and ammunition they could find into their bags. Then the bus drove off again and the Naxals melted into the forest.

This was the story narrated to Brig Basant Kumar Ponwar, Inspector General of Police, Chhattisgarh, and a veteran of Army counter-insurgency operations who is currently involved in training policemen to handle guerilla operations.

“One hundred and seventy districts over 13 states are currently under the influence of the Naxals, though in some states the pockets are small and have been contained. Our interrogations and materials obtained from raids indicate that the target of this group is to bring, by 2010, 30-35 per cent of India under their sway. In order to prevent incidents like Murkinar, India has to train at least 10,000-20,000 policemen in counter-insurgency tactics. This is no small task,” he said on the phone from Bastar.

The two-day shock and awe campaign earlier this week by Naxals all over India to protest the “imposition” of special economic zones (SEZs) and the government’s economic policies has had the desired effect.

Naxal actions were calculated to be conspicuous and loud. In West Bengal’s Purulia district, about 50 guerrillas set fire to the station master’s room at Biramdih railway station at around 1:30 am. The attack destroyed the signalling system. Biramdih — on the Jharkhand-West Bengal border — is 285 km from Kolkata. Train services between Bihar and Jharkhand, including the state capitals Patna and Ranchi, were cancelled.

In Chhattisgarh, public transport went off the roads and movement of iron ore from Dantewada district’s Bailadila hills to Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh was halted. Maoists blocked interior pockets of Bastar, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Dantewada and Kanker districts by placing wooden logs on the roads. Primitive tactics? Maybe, but no one dared remove the logs.

It isn’t just the intensity of the Maoist rage with the system (in their most spectacular attack on a police post in Rani Bodli, 55 policemen were killed, but what shocked the people was that some policemen who had obviously surrendered were also killed — axed to death, their decapitated heads placed neatly by the side of their bodies). It is also that they will not be ignored any more.

Over a two day-campaign, in Jharkhand alone, official estimates put the losses at around Rs 150 crore. The railways lost Rs 30 crore due to cancellation of goods and passenger trains and damage to property — in Latehar district they burnt two engines and damaged 12 goods train bogies.

Around 1,500 buses did not ply during these two days, causing a loss of Rs 1.5 crore. Trucks stood idle, leading to a loss of Rs 3 crore. Coal and iron ore production and transport was disrupted, leading to losses of around Rs 60 crore. In Jharkhand, export-import businesses had to shut down for virtually the whole week, leading to losses of Rs 5 crore. With road and rail traffic coming to a complete halt in the state, nothing could be done.

Since the inception of Chhattisgarh in November 2000, 751 civilians have fallen to the fury of the rebels. Two hundred and twenty policemen have died combating the Red Army. Development work worth Rs 200 crore has been left stranded in Bastar because no one wants to work there. Property and other losses add up to Rs 8,000 crore in six years.

Guerilla groups are territorial in their outlook. They need an area — one hesitates to call it a state — of their own. The Tamil aspiration is for Eelam. What do the Indian Maoists want?

The Maoist “state” is called Aboojhmad. Its exact contours remain a mystery. The area stretches over some 10,000-15,000 sq km — the size of Fiji or Cyprus — with inaccessible terrain encompassing the forest belt from Bastar to Adilabad, Khammam and East Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh and including Chandrapur and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh and Malkangiri in Orissa.

Parts of this region have never been surveyed, not even by Emperor Akbar who conducted the first revenue survey in the mid-15th century. The first surveyor-general of India, Edward Everest, also failed to map the entire topography of Aboojhmad in his survey conducted between 1872 and 1880.

According to intelligence agencies, Aboojhmad houses all major establishments of the Maoists outfits including arms manufacturing units and guerrilla training. It is also a safe haven for the top guns. “The area is heavily mined and it is near-impossible for security agencies to sneak in,” said a senior state police official.

Maoists are also expanding their area of operation. The growing economy of the region has increased the demand for raw materials. Chhattisgarh is the preferred destination for investments in thermal power and steel.

SAIL, Essar, Tata and Jindal are in the race to acquire the biggest coal and iron ore mining blocks. The new tactics in Chhattisgarh appear to be to establish a hold in other mining areas as well. The recent arrest of a top Maoist gun in a diamond-rich belt of Raipur district attests to this. It isn’t just the forest for them, it is also mines and industrial areas.

In the bauxite-rich areas in the region they have registered their presence in Siridih and Mainpat areas of Sarguja district where aluminium majors Hindalco and Vedanta-owned Bharat Aluminium have mining facilities.

Besides opposing industries in Chhattisgarh, rebels have also hit at the state economy. Agriculture is impossible in these circumstances. Nor isthe state receiving dividends in the proportion it had estimated from forest produce. The huge budget for the region lapses unspent every year. About 30 per cent of the Rs 450 crore budget for the Chhattisgarh government’s home department is spent on anti-Maoist operations.

How do the groups operate? Over the last decade, the Maoist movement has undergone a lot of mergers and acquisitions. Smaller groups have merged with bigger ones, cadres have joined rivals and while factional warfare has claimed the lives of many loyal believers, it has also prompted the Maoists to consider how best to synergise their strengths. To be sure, there is still some griping between old rivals.

For instance, the CPI ML (Kanu Sanyal) had this to say about the CPI Maoists’s greatest military victory ever: “CPI (Maoist) action on 15th March at Rani Bodili in Dantewada district fully exposes its anarchist line and calls for severe condemnation. Instead of exposing, challenging and defeating the state terror by mobilising the masses, it is totally counter-productive as it has given further excuse for deploying 8,000 more para-military forces in Bastar district alone to intensify the state terror.”

But by and large there is greater coordination among groups than ever before. At the 9th Congress of CPI (Maoist) held after 36 years somewhere in the forests of Orissa-Jharkhand borders in January-February this year, it decided to protest against SEZs and the setting up of industries by acquiring forest and tribal land.

In Chhattisgarh, the Maoists have already warned Tata and Essar against putting up steel plants in Bastar. The Congress, sources said, decided to extend its protests to Kalinga Nagar, Singur, Nandigram, and Polavaram (Andhra Pradesh). Some other specific projects are also in their sights: this makes the challenge all the more terrifying.

How can the Maoists be defeated — and should they be? A former district magistrate in Chhattisgarh, Shailesh Pathak recounts how he supervised the general elections of 2004 in Bastar.

“We couldn’t get the electronic voting machines into Bastar because of Naxal propaganda that they’d mined the area and anyone going there would be blown up. So we launched our own counter-propaganda — that we had airborne missiles that would be able to detect Naxals from the air. I even did a couple of helicopter sorties to prove that we had a helicopter. That’s how we held the election.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that Naxals will grow where there is no development or democracy — the turnout in the general election in Bastar was 15 per cent despite Pathak — but their argument is that the economic boom has bypassed them but it is their resources that has aided it.

Ponwar’s argument is military logic. “You can defeat the Naxalites militarily. What do they have, after all — explosives they have looted from the National Mineral Development Corporation godowns used for mining, some .303 rifles, LMGs and AK 47s looted from police stations? But having once liberated areas militarily, the state must demonstrate its authority. It must establish itself in these areas — because if it doesn’t, the Naxals will just reclaim it.”

Economist Jean Dreze’s survey in Sarguja district that is under Naxal influence suggests that job-creation is an answer. Organising those who are opposed to Naxals unfortunately only renders them more vulnerable to Naxal attacks. Tribals, used to referring to the forest as their home, are now huddled in camps under RCC sheets to protect them from Naxal reprisal.

One thing is certain: no amount of coordinated police and military action is going to prevent the Naxal movement from growing. “It is not that the military challenge is strong,” says Ponwar, “it is that the response is weak.”

The Red battle for Orissa

One night in June, a group of armed CPI (Maoist) extremists killed a contractor at Tumikoma village and two persons at Ranigolla village in Deogarh district on the western fringe of the state.

The same night, 600 km away in Koraput, in south Orissa, suspected Maoists blasted the engine of a goods train and burnt down a part of the Padua police station. Three days later, two suspected Maoists entered the conference room of the Orissa High Court Bar Association at Cuttack and dropped bundles of leaflets there pertaining to their two-day economic blockade agitation on June 26 and 27.

The three incidents say it all — the Naxal presence which was limited to its southern tip bordering Andhra Pradesh only a few years ago has now infiltrated across the length and breadth of Orissa. It is estimated Naxals/Maoists now have a presence of some sort or other in 17 of Orissa’s 30 districts, but the state government acknowledges their existence in only 11 districts.

The left-wing extremist groups have spread the menace in 11 of 30 districts by indulging in violence in the past seven years, says Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. They had mounted attacks as many as 234 times, killing 103 persons in seven years.

But Patnaik is seeking solace that this is far less compared to the mayhem unleashed in neighbouring states. In Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, in the same period, 941 and 930 people were killed; the casualty figure for Andhra Pradesh is 1,867.

According to government records, the tribal dominated Malkanagiri district in the south is the worst-hit, accounting for 43 per cent of the Naxal related incidents.

Rayagada, Sambalpur and Koraput are three other districts where CPI (Maoist) mounted 50, 27 and 20 attacks respectively in the last seven years. Most of the Naxalite attacks were reported from Malkanagiri district. Apart from Malkanagiri, other southern districts infested by the Naxal menace are Rayagada, Gajapati and Koraput.

Win some, lose some

Activists and students who went to Sarguja for a public hearing on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme recently have come back to report major improvements in the distribution of job cards, the extent of employment, the payment of wages and the quality of work undertaken.

This gives reason for hope in the possibility of making NREGP work, says economist and activist Jean Dreze who organised the hearings. Sarguja is one district not in the thick of Naxal influence and where government programmes have been allowed to run their natural course.

The most heartening finding was “a sharp decline in corruption”. This is not to generalise about the state of affairs in Sarguja, for the Dreze-led group reports that the National Food For Work Programme has remained on paper. But on NREGP, says Dreze: “We found that 95 per cent of the wage payments that had been made according to the muster rolls had actually reached the labourers.”

Dreze compares Sarguja with other Naxal hit areas of Chhattisgarh in this context.

“It is interesting to consider the growing contrast between this region of Chhattisgarh and the southern region (Bastar and adjoining districts),” he says.

“In the southern region, misguided attempts to suppress the Naxalite movement through brute force have led to a spiral of violence and turned large areas into a war zone. Development is the casualty. In the northern region, which is comparatively free of violent conflict, there has been a noticeable improvement in the reach and quality of public services such as drinking water, health care, elementary education and the public distribution system.”

Researcher and economist of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Tapas Sen, currently working on a report on Chhattisgarh, notes a change in the policy of the radical elements in the state.

Earlier government functionaries were not targetted but now are. Hence government programmes are a casualty in Naxal-hit areas. Doctors, for example, are held in a pincer between the government and the Naxals. Often they are forced to serve the Naxals without the knowledge of the police. They are under threat from both sides, he says. So, who wins?

With inputs from R Krishna Das in Raipur, Dilip Satapathy in Bhubaneswar and Sreelatha Menon in New Delhi

Business Standard


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